Why Your Skimboard Sinks and How To Stop It Happening

If you find yourself eyeing up the perfect wave, sprinting toward the surf, hopping on your skimboard, and… sinking before you even get halfway there, don’t worry, we’ve all been there.

But what exactly is making your skimboard sink?

Skimboards sink for a few reasons. The most common is that you’re not skimming fast enough. Run faster, master your drop, and make sure your board is buoyant and large enough to support your weight. Foam boards float better than wooden boards and allow for faster skimming on water.

Below I’ll teach you all the possible reasons your skimboard is sinking before you reach waves and what you can do to correct each problem. 

Why Does My Skimboard Sink?

There are a variety of reasons why you skimboard seems to sink as soon as you jump onto it. Chances are if you're sinking really quickly you have a myriad of these issues, not just one.

A Low Quality Skimboard

In a lot of cases, when a skimboarder is sinking before reaching waves, the board itself is to blame. 

Most beginners end up with a wooden skimboard, which are usually too small and not very buoyant.

Small boards don’t provide enough surface area to distribute your weight adequately. The bigger you are, the bigger and more buoyant board you’ll need. 

While wooden boards are okay on wet sand, they’re not built to handle skimming more than an inch or two of water and they certainly aren't made for surfing waves. The density and weight will drag you down like an anchor. 

If you want to learn to skimboard waves then you'll want to upgrade to a higher quality foam board with a fiberglass, epoxy or carbon fiber exterior. Read more about the best skimboard materials.

Poor Technique Getting Onto Your Board

The second major factor that makes skimboards sink is speed — or more accurately, lack of speed. 

Skimming water requires going pretty fast, otherwise you’ll sink like a stone. 

If you haven’t mastered your drop (either the one step drop or monkey crawl drop), reaching these speeds will be challenging (and a little sketchy to boot).

One of the biggest mistakes new skimboarders make is throwing their board out in front of them and chasing after it and jumping on it. While this seems like a good way to do it you actually lose a lot of speed with this technique.

Good technique when dropping onto your skimboard is vital if you want to be able to reach waves without sinking. For more details on the best way to get onto your skimboard and maintain speed check out the complete guide to learning how to skimboard.

If you have the wrong board for skimming fast, maintaining an adequate speed will be difficult as well.

Board Buoyancy

Foam boards, especially those made with a carbon fiber outer shell, will help you reach and maintain the high speeds needed to reach waves without sinking. 

This is because the boards are made from thicker foam which floats much better than wooden boards do.

For heavier set people a thicker board is better and for lighter people a thinner foam board will give a good combination of buoyancy and maneuverability.

If you're still riding a wooden board it's time to update asap. Check out my list of the best skimboards for beginners and choose a high-quality board that won't sink.

Body Positioning

Body positioning is also important if you don't want your skimboard to sink.

If you're weight is too far forward or too far back on your skimboard you're going to create a lot of drag in the water which will slow you down quick.

Having your weight centered on the board will distribute your weight evenly and will help you maintain speed for longer and help your travel further before sinking.

Your Running Speed

Lastly, you may just not be running fast enough. No board can make up for a low-speed drop.

While you should definitely start out slow in order to master technique eventually there is no getting around the fact that you need to sprint fast in order to have any hope of catching waves.

Watch some pros on TikTok and see how fast they’re sprinting before they catch waves. 

Suction With The Sand

Often after riding your skimboard you'll find that it's almost stuck to the sand. When you try to lift it up off the sand you can feel a suction holding it down.

This is normal and will happen to all types of skimboard, but it's more common with wooden boards.

To stop this from happening you need to get off your board before it completely sinks and to get it off ground easier lift it up from the side rail, not the nose or base of the board.

How Do I Stop My Skimboarding From Sinking?

  • Get the right board. A large foam board will float much better than a small wooden board and allow for faster skimming. 
  • Distribute your weight correctly. Position your body weight over the center of the board with a slight bend in your knees. 
  • Run faster. Without the right speed, you won’t be able to reach any waves before sinking. A jog isn’t going to cut it. 
  • Master your drop. Another element of reaching high speeds is having a mechanically sound drop. Either the one step drop or monkey crawl will work. You just need to put in the practice. 

Just remember, a common skimboarding beginner mistake is adding speed before mastering the basics — which can actually be pretty dangerous. 

If you’re sinking trying to catch waves, you may just not be ready yet. Keep practicing, work on your mechanics, and you’ll get where you want to be. 

Do Skimboards Float In Water?

Skimboards do float in water — but some float much better than others.

Foam skimboards are much more buoyant than those made of wood thanks to a lightweight foam core full of tiny air bubbles.

If your skimboard seems to sink as soon as you hop on, it may just be too small for you. 

Generally, for catching waves, a skimboard should reach the bottom of your chest. Weight-wise, boardmakers usually provide a sizing chart based on the rider’s weight.

Final Thoughts

If your skimboard sinks before you can reach waves, it’s usually because you’re going to slow or you have the wrong type of board.

To stop your skimboard from sinking:

  • Get a foam board.
  • Work on your drop to reach higher speeds. 
  • Run faster into your drop. 
  • Center your weight over the board.